For the second day of our Soul Foodie trip, I took my Soul Foodies on an exploration of fresh food in Phuket. I wanted them to get a closer, hands-on experience of how we Thai people value freshness in our ingredients. So, we visited a wet market, had a cooking class with an Iron Chef, and dined at a seafood market.
Wholesale shopping for fresh food in Phuket
Our first stop for the day is one of the wholesale open markets in Phuket. This is a place where you can buy the freshest produce available for the day—be it fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood, and other ingredients Thai consider essential in their cooking.
Upon arriving at the market, we were immediately greeted by the smell of finely chopped lemongrass. The aroma is so strong it just wakes up the senses, especially after having breakfast. I led my Soul Foodies through the market and showed them ingredients that we use a lot in Thai cuisine but aren’t easily found Stateside. Among these are pennywort (which we call bai bua bok), cilantro roots, and dried shrimp.
There are also stalls in the market that sell cooked food. I had my Soul Foodies try a typical Thai breakfast on-the-go: barbecued pork on a stick and sticky rice. We also had a dessert of sticky rice cubes topped with egg custard that’s served on a beautiful banana leaf. Later, we chanced upon a stall that sells kanoon or jackfruit, and it’s definitely a must-try when you’re in Thailand.
Learning to cook Thai staples at Suay Restaurant
The first cooking class I have arranged for my Soul Foodies to have is at Suay Restaurant, helmed by the one and only Chef Noi, an Iron Chef and one of Thailand’s most famous chefs. I didn’t expect him to teach the cooking class himself, but there he was, and it was exciting!
Many of the Soul Foodies who traveled with me to Phuket are first-timers when it comes to Thai cooking. There they learned to cook Thai staples like som tam, tom yum, and pad Thai—with a Thai fusion twist a la Chef Noi, of course.
Rawai Seafood Market and Mook Manee: where to get hardcore fresh seafood
The last stop for the day is shopping for fresh seafood at Rawai Seafood Market and then having them cooked for dinner at Mook Manee. Rawai Seafood Market is fabulous because you get to dine on fresh seafood caught that same day and interact with the fishermen who caught them. You get the live seafood cooked at Mook Manee just the way you want them, and you get charged per kilo of the food.
What did we order? The better question is, “What did we not order?” We had fish, oysters, abalone, shrimp, squid, and lobster. The highlights of the meal were lobster thermidor, grilled shrimp, and garlic squid. The squid is especially delicious because it has eggs inside and it’s the right balance of softness and chewiness. We were also treated to a drink called lobster’s blood, which is made using fresh lobster extract. Yum!
We enjoyed so much fresh food on our second day. Thus, it’s only fitting that we call a blessing upon the live product that ended up on our plate. We thank the universe for bringing us food that fed our soul, and it was indeed a soul-feeding experience.
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